Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods –
Hipster Rating (out of 10): 8
Predominant Housing Prices:
Ownership: Around $250,000
Rental: Around $1,000
Housing Density: Mostly Single Family
Mixed Use Rating: Fair
Vinegar Flats Neighborhood Description
If this were a list of Spokane’s funkiest neighborhoods, Vinegar Flats would be ranked number one. It also has the coolest name. Natural geography and man-made obstructions have the neighborhood surrounded on all sides giving it a feeling of relative isolation despite its proximity to Browne’s Addition, Downtown, and the South Hill. There’s not a lot of reason to venture into Vinegar Flats unless you live there or are visiting someone.
The neighborhood is shaped by Latah Creek, which drains into the nearby Spokane River a short inner-tube trip downstream. Despite being down a steep bluff from the South Hill, the streets awkwardly hold onto the street numbering system and grid.
Vinegar Flats has quietly remained one of Spokane’s most obscure and easily forgotten neighborhoods since development began in the early 1900s. Homes are generally modest but ornate and easy access to downtown is a significant asset.
Vinegar Flats’ largest assets are the dramatic natural landscapes that surround it and create shelter from congestion that other neighborhoods simply can’t provide. If you’re looking for a quiet, funky neighborhood in Spokane, Vinegar Flats abides.
Elements that Create Great Neighborhoods
An Identifiable Center
Vinegar Flats does not have a distinguishable center. One could make arguments for several locations but my vote goes to 13th Avenue and Chestnut Street because of the old apartment building that sits at the intersection.
Vinegar Flats boundaries are well defined. With the bluffs of the South Hill on one side, and the basalt out-cropping that hugs Latah Creek on the other, not to mention Latah Creek itself, Vinegar Flats’ sense of place is beyond reproach.
A Front Door
There’s not really a front door into Vinegar Flats. Gateway improvements would add greatly to the uniqueness of the neighborhood.
Mixed Land Uses
Vinegar Flats is home to a few local businesses and a grocery store is just up the hill in Browne’s Addition. Not to mention, downtown is a short bike ride away. One could live in Vinegar Flats without need of owning a vehicle.
Being historic in nature, the architecture that defines Vinegar Flats is as diverse as the neighborhood.
Buildings that Address the Street
Vinegar Flats scores well in this category. Homes and businesses orient toward the street (as opposed to a parking lot or garage).
Streets that Generally Connect
Streets in Vinegar Flats do generally connect but Latah Creek, as it winds through the neighborhood, is the terminus for many of them.
Sidewalks are a challenge in Vinegar Flats, not every street has them, let alone be them detached. Because traffic is not an issue, however, it is still plenty safe for a stroll or for kids to play in the street.
There are few uniform plantings of street trees in the neighborhood but a respectable canopy still exists courtesy of tree plantings by individual property owners.
Vinegar Flats is easily accessible on foot. Although the nearest grocery store is a bit of jaunt, one could very well get by living in the neighborhood with nothing more than a bike.
Surprise, surprise. Of all the neighborhoods on Spokane’s Best Neighborhoods’ list, Vinegar Flats’ challenges are the most unique. Vinegar Flats most pressing challenge is City Hall does not yet see the potential for the neighborhood. How can the City of Spokane capitalize on the funky, shabby-chic character that defines Vinegar Flats? Encouraging a creative neighborhood dynamic is difficult because, if city planners get it wrong, it will feel contrived and fake. Funding for permanent art installations located throughout the neighborhood (and led by neighborhood residents) is a soft touch, neighborhood-driven stimulant that can accentuate Vinegar Flats already one-of-a-kind character. From a market-driven perspective, Vinegar Flats appears ripe for a neighborhood pub and eatery, something that will provide a gathering place for neighbors to bump into each other and share time together.